Elbow synovitis is a build-up and chronic inflammation of the synovium, which is the inner lining of a joint that helps with lubrication and gliding. Causes of elbow synovitis include arthritiselbow strainelbow sprain, elbow fracture, such as an olecranon elbow fracturegoutinfectious arthritis. Risk is increased with sports, falling, occupational hazards, repetitive use, previous injury, poor conditioning.
signs & symptoms: Includes elbow pain, pain with motion of the elbow, tenderness, swelling, redness, warmth. If infection is present, symptoms include fever, chills, ill feeling.
diagnosis: Based on signs, symptoms, history and exam, as well as x-ray. Occasionally, if fluid is inside the joint, it might be aspirated for analysis and culture.
treatment: Infectious synovitis is treated with antibiotics and possible drainage. Acute non-infectious synovitis is treated with rest, ice, splinting and medication for pain and swelling. Chronic synovitis is treated with alternating ice and heat, whirlpool, physical therapy, and occasionally surgery, called a synovectomy, in order to release the frozen elbow.
prevention: Avoid recurrent injuries to the elbow, wear protective gear if appropriate.
outcome: Most cases of elbow synovitis resolve in 2-4 weeks. Infectious elbow synovitis requires 2-3 months to heal. Complications can include stiffness, frozen elbow, permanent disability, arthritis.